Minestrone is a thick vegetable/bean soup, usually with the addition of pasta. It has a long history dating back to pre-Roman days, and it used to be made primarily with leftovers by poor families looking to stretch their food resources. It's considered a part of la cucina povera, or poor kitchen. It evolved over the years, as any good recipe does, reflecting the economies and eating habits of the people making it, so I thought it fitting that I add quinoa (instead of pasta) and kale to this classic soup.
Don't let all the ingredients scare you. All you're really doing is chopping the veggies into a medium dice (about the size of popped corn) and putting everything in a big pot. It's fast, easy and ready to eat in about 40 minutes without much fuss from you, and it's good for more than one meal. Make a really big pot and freeze what you don't use in quart containers. They last for months and will be a lifesaver when you can't or don't want to cook.
In celebration of this time of harvest, when fresh local vegetables are available almost everywhere, go explore the farmer's markets, stop at farm stands, or just grab your favorite fresh veggies wherever you can, and make a minestrone. Express yourself!
- 1 sweet onion - medium diced
- 2 celery stalks - medium diced
- 3 carrots - medium diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil - or enough to cover the bottom of the pot
- 2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
- 2 cups fresh zucchini - medium diced (about 1 medium or 2 small)
- 2 cups green beans - cut in 1 inch pieces
- 1 bell pepper - medium diced
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 28-ounce cans of water
- 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans
- 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups kale - stems removed
- 1 teaspoon turmeric (or to taste)
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish with parmesan to taste (optional)
- Garnish with slivered basil or finely chopped rosemary
Place a large stockpot over medium heat and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.
Add the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for about one minute or until garlic begins to color.
Add the zucchini and the green beans, season with salt and pepper, add the turmeric, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and the water, raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat to medium/low and allow the soup to gently boil (uncovered) for about 20 minutes.
Add the quinoa and cover for 15 minutes.
Remove the cover, add the kale and the canned beans (more water if needed) bring back to a gentle boil and cook for another 5 minutes or just until the kale is tender.
Grate in the parmesan, add the basil and serve. (or do this for individual servings).